Labour Councillors have raised the use of DNR (Do Not Resuscitate orders) for people with learning disabilities in the city, in light of a recent CQC (Care Quality Commission) report that highlighted DNR orders had been wrongly allocated to some care home residents in the first wave of the pandemic, potentially causing avoidable deaths.
The CQC and Mencap raised concern at 40 examples in England, in most cases with DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Cardio-pulmonary Resuscitation) orders being put in place without the knowledge or consent of the person or their family.
Councillor Nick Childs, Labour’s opposition spokesperson for adult social care, questioned the Administration and local NHS Commissioners on the issue at the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on 23 March and expressed his deep concern at the national data. Councillor Childs says:
“It is important that residents are provided with assurances that the principle of the sanctity of human life is paramount in all medical decisions, that robust safeguards are in place that ensure blanket DNR are not applied and that informed consent is obtained in all cases.
“In particular, the NHS and Council must be vigilant in cases where patients and their carers may lack the social capital and confidence to challenge decisions of medical professionals.
“People with learning difficulties are often vulnerable due to both physical disabilities and learning difficulties.
“Data during Covid shows people with learning disabilities have a significantly higher mortality rate. There are many reasons for this and the issue is complex, but we must be on our guard and ensure that more is done for this group of residents.”
Councillor Childs requested an urgent update of progress in vaccination all persons with learning disabilities including consideration of children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities being protected.
Dr Andrew Hodson, speaking for the NHS, explained how the CCG had worked hard to ensure safeguards were in place such as use of proper reporting forms and procedures and support for vulnerable patients and carers, but he agreed that it was vital that the Trust remain vigilant.